As it happened, Dr. G wasn't able to schedule the PET scan for Monday after all. So I woke up after all my praying only to hear that I'd have to wait a couple more days. But I felt oddly great, like I had a strange new power.
Meanwhile, it was time to see kidney guys. I knew that the tumor in my kidney had to come out, but there was still some question about whether I'd have to do a "radical nephrectomy," where the entire kidney comes out, or a "partial," where just the chunk containing the tumor is excised. And of course I wanted the best possible surgeon to be doing the cutting, no matter what.
On the day I was diagnosed, a small army had gathered at our place, and a few of them set about finding the names of prominent urologists in Chicago and making appointments for me. The first one turned out not to be a surgeon himself--an orthodox Jew who met me at his office early on a Sunday morning in a grease-stained doctor's smock. I probably could have skipped that one, but he knew the surgeons in the area, and confirmed that one on my list was very good, but that another had left the tumor in a couple of times. Good to know.
Then I met with a surgeon who almost everyone had mentioned as Chicago's king of kidney removal: "fantastic surgeon" "beautiful hands." An Iranian, as it happened, and friends with friends of the family. My sainted cousin, who's accompanied me to almost every single appointment, and I made the trip downtown to see him.
He charmed us, he impressed us, he was arrogant and casual, he does this shit all the time, it's no biggie, and best of all, even though even then I knew that he was more or less talking out his ass, when we told him about the cancer cells in my stomach, he just waved his hand and said, "Bah, I see a lot of overreading of stomach biopsies."
That, it turned out, was God telling me. Even that thin bit of hope was enough to make me smile the rest of the day. Holy shit, did I ever want to live.